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Why did I fight? / Can emotional trauma cause bladder control problems?

answered 10:27 AM EST, Sat November 12, 2011
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anonymous anonymous
I was stalked for over 4 years (2005-2009) by a next door neighbor. I got a restraining order against the person. He threatened my life repeatedly and physically abused me a few times, but I was able to get away. I finally was able to move to another state and hide my identity.

Since then, about a year later (Sept 2010) I was jumped and robbed by three young men. They kicked and hit me in the face while they were trying to take my purse. For some reason I fought back even though there was nothing in my purse to fight for. They pushed me in the street with on coming traffic and I still was fighting them off of me. I lost complete control of my bodily fluids.

Everyone who has heard this story told me I was foolish for fighting them. In a way I agree, but I don't know why I fought them. Since Sept 2010, I have been living a normal life, but the only thing I noticed is that I go to the restroom about every 20-30 minutes because I cannot contain liquid very well. Is this because of the attack and was I crazy for fighting them given that I am not a fighter?

Art Matthews Says...

First things first, you fought them off not bacause you made a conscious decision to do so but because of your body-mind's automatic, natural, protective response called the Fight/Flight Response (FFR). This response is initiated when we perceive a threat, making all sorts of things happen all at once without us thinking about it. See this video on YouTube: http://bit.ly/qk4Dz1

Your reaction to fight was determined by this automated response and fleeting perceptions and thoughts at the time of the incident, not your rational brain. And the loss of bladder control was very likely to have been an extreme reaction of the FFR. If you think about how humans have developed from hunter/gatherers to Modern Man, there was quite a bit of functionality to certain reactions. If you were being pursued by a carnivorous animal, you might lose bowel and bladder control as a means to escape because it would make you less appealing as prey. Other actions like perspiring (which can also smell bad) and vomiting (which provides the carnivore with an easier meal) are also protective in origin. In Modern Man, they are embarrassing and frustrating.

Now as to the problem holding your urine when you aren't experiencing the flight or fight response, you should consider talking to a urologist and/or ObGyn doc. Your experience of needing to urinate may depend on the number of children you have birthed, structural anomalies in the bladder or having a dyskenesic bladder.

I have heard of a case of a woman who was sexually abused as a child who had difficulty holding her urine as a child and was branded with the unfortunate moniker "diaper girl" because she needed to use pads and undergarments until she was in her early teens. As an adult, she, like you , had to go to the restroom many times a day, urinating little but she never felt she fully emptied her bladder. She worked with a psychotherapist, a physical therapist and a massage therapist to learn to relax her body but especially her pelvic muscles that had been somehow locked in a semi-flexed state. This prevented her from completely filling or emptying her bladder. After just a few months of therapy, she was able to end her life-long ordeal and live her life free from the restroom.

So there is no need for you to feel badly that you fought back. Your brain was being flooded with adrenaline and wasn't thinking rationally. Your body took over and pulled out all the stops. It's too soon to tell if your current bladder control is related, so you need a medical opinion as to the source of the problem. There is treatment regardless of the source. You needn't feel embarrassed to seek help.


by Art Matthews, MA LPC

Licensed Independent Therapist

AZ Boddy-Mind Counseling

Mesa, AZ

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Page last updated Nov 12, 2011

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